Black Collar Workers



Black Tide

Back in January I wrote a fairly lengthy piece about the advance marketing campaign that Interscope Records was running for teenage metal band Black Tide. In short, based on the number of FedExed advance records (5 in varying configurations), press releases (13 to date) from high-powered publicists, and the general sense of manufactured-in-a-marketing-meeting hype surrounding the band, I declared that Interscope was frivolously throwing away money towards hopes that could never possibly be realized. The post stirred up quite a few comments, including one from guitarist Gabriel Garcia himself.

Today, the first-week sales numbers for their debut record Light From Above have been revealed; according to the Soundscan report that just it my inbox, the record shifted 11,357 copies, enough to land them at #73.

Now, I hate to say “I told you so,” but I told you so.

Interscope was running a positively old-school marketing campaign for this band — hire big-name producers (Jason Suecof and Johnny K. — NOT cheap), blow boat-loads of money into carpet-bombing everyone / no one in particular through the media, rally around radio, and hope for the best. Furthermore, this is a metal band, a genre which has performed notoriously poorly on major labels. Those metal bands that have done well on majors have built their careers from the ground up through years of touring and hard work (i.e. Metallica, Lamb of God, Mastodon). Black Tide, this is not.

So, 11,357 copies? Not a bad first-week number for a metal band at all! Last week Meshuggah sold roughly the same number in their first week which by all account is a triumphant success — for the relatively small label Nuclear Blast (compared to Interscope). But for a major label project, Interscope has got to be really, really disappointed. The major label game is all about the first week number, and judging by the run-up for this record Interscope was gunning for a big first week. Labels often decide how much money to continue spending based on the first week, so you can forget Interscope continuing to pour more money into this band; they’ve already wasted enough. You can forget the label — or the band — ever having any chance of recouping. A nice music video? Yeah right. Tour support? Bye-bye.

In short, barring a surprise change of the tide (pun intended) or mega radio hit, this project is fucked. You can not manufacture success anymore. It has to be organic. The old game is over.


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